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Guest Column


The records show that during 2018 we won 182 open races and scored 983 points in defending our Trainer of the Year award. It was our 10th title since 2005 but this year's success certainly came at a cost, amongst some brilliant triumphs, including four Category 1 victories, we suffered a catalogue of injuries on a level I’ve not seen before. One huge highlight was a superb night at Towcester where we won the GTA Trainers Championship meeting against the odds and a month later we enjoyed another Derby night special from Towcester where our kennel steered both Bombers Bullet and Bruisers Bullet to the final. Although unsuccessful the two made it seven finalists (two winners) in our kennel's illustrious history. In total we had 19 Category 1 finalists many of whom won heats or semi finals which was instrumental in gathering our haul of points.

Our world was rocked in August as we received news that our home track Towcester was to cease racing immediately and was in the hands of administrators. Exactly 10 years after the closure of my beloved Walthamstow the dream of a bright future had come to an end, not only that but I was deeply hurt personally by the way it was all done and we were left out of pocket by over £20,000. A track that was the shining light in our industry, one that I had help to start was now no more.To say it was a difficult time was an understatement but thankfully Kevin Boothby and Henlow were more than accommodating and by September 1st we were having our first graded runners at the Bedfordshire track. We have, in the last four months, made the most of the situation and we do have hope in 2019 with Henlow’s massive commitment to Greyhound racing.

Our monthly review highlights what a mixed year we have had and how resilient our kennel is. My staff and family have been sensational all year and I would like to thank them all (Sarah, Daniel, Emily and Linda with Sid, Justine, Kat, Kevin, Kiera, Roy, Pete and Ronnie) and again we have to thank our expert physio Ron Mills for his services and I would also like to thank vets Stefano Malegori and Mario for their incredible dedication and time and, in what was a difficult year, not one of our injured dogs was put to sleep and that I’m sincerely thankful for.

Of course none of us would be here without our loyal owners and at times they have stopped me calling it a day with their unwavering support. I never like to single any out but a few have been more than just owners, they have been incredibly kind, generous and supportive to myself when faced with adversity, a huge thank you to them!

My highlight of the year, hechampiontrainer18.JPGnce the award for Performance of the Year was Rubys Rascal coming from way off the pace to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the Stayers race on Trainers Championship night, this landing us the title. Gathered with some 30 or so supporters in one of Towcester’s executive boxes screaming their heads off was an experience that will live with me for a long time, my staff know, why and how we won that event and what it meant to me personally. Rubys Rascal along with Roswell Romanov were two of my all time favourite dogs and I’m so pleased both are enjoying their retirement.

No doubting our website overall Greyhound of the Year as Bombers Bullet fully deserved this when improving out of all recognition for the Bruiser Boyz syndicate from January until he made the Derby final in July, then stepped up in trip he landed two major staying events and came very close when beaten in a photo in a 3rd. Tragedy struck when venturing across the water and I’m sure we could have had a chance of landing one or two more competitions if injury hadn’t dealt us another cruel blow and then I’m confident the GBGB Greyhound of the Year would be a three way battle instead of the current two in contention. We will be disappointed later this month if he doesn’t pick up the Stayer of the Year title to follow Rubys Rascal, Ferryforth Fran and Blonde Reagan in previous years.

Saleen Ash had a fabulous year and was our leading open race winner with 13 victories while special mention should go to Ribble Ghost for being the Graded Greyhound of the Year. Despite her limitations and once described as the slowest dog at Towcester in 2016 managed to climb to A4 grade before it closed in August and now at the veteran stage has climbed to A4 at Henlow! Mike Davis owner of Saleen Ash etc won our main '5 To Follow' competition as his Silva Hill and Saleen Story topped the points list and we had huge banter in the kennel as my daughter Emily (she's 14) won our staff 5 To Follow comp.

For the first time since we started doing our website our ‘Recommended Bets’ 2017 showed a small loss but in 2018 we bounced back and our supporters will be revelling in the glory.Overall all our selections ante post and singular showed a lovely profit of 99 points, considering our max bet is 5 points it basically means if you had just £1 per point recommended you would have won near £100 in 2018, that would be £1000 if you had gone £10 per point. Our winners were amazing including Saleen Ash 12/1 for the Peter Bussey, Parkers Dynamite 25/1 for the Grand National and Bombers Bullet 80/1 each way for the Derby and many more, the whole idea is just a bet for a bit of fun but it’s bloody nice when we can show a nice profit! all adding to our fantastic site.

I hope you all enjoy the read and lastly I would like to thank Mick & Maureen for not only putting this together but for their superb contribution to our kennel in running this website.

A very Happy & Prosperous New Year!

Mark Wallis

Here we go!

 
JANUARY
 
boylesports_duke_fd.JPGA new year might not have begun with loads of optimism for the industry, especially with the massive split in rights with two different services supplying the betting shops, both ARC (TRP tracks) and SIS were fighting out a bitter battle which was not going to be healthy for the sport. The loss of Greyhound racing on Sky was also a huge blow to our showpiece events while I felt that Romford’s popular Friday night meetings coming off the RPGTV service would have a major impact on the volume of open race runners we sent out over the year. We still held high hopes of a decent 2019 and would have been long odds on to retain our Trainer of the Year title if it had been priced up. Boylesports Duke was our first open race winner of the year when taking a heat of the Coronation Cup at Romford while Garryglass Bambi was our first graded winner of the year at Towcester.
 
garryglass_bambi_fd.JPGOverall on the track our first month got off to a shaky start as for the first time in years we failed to get a Coronation Cup finalist and in the supporting Mitch Millward Memorial Final Rubys Rascal seemed to have the race at his mercy when holding a healthy lead after a circuit but completely faded to finish 4th, not surprisingly he was lame the next day.
 
Bombers Bullet first came to notice when runner up in the Maiden Derby at Henlow over an inadequate 460m. Despite not being successful in any competitions in January we still had plenty of open race winners and the two Category 2 finalists ensured we didn’t fall too far behind in the Trainer standings.
 
Off the track it was sad to see Mildenhall close through lack of support and funding, a grass roots track where both myself and Linda had a great education before we were well known.
 
My massive push to try and get promoters to pay ‘away’ open race trainers a £15 bonus for providing a service to the betting shops (the fact ‘home’ trainers were paid if they had runners in the same race was farcical to say the least) bore fruit when Ladbrokes/Corals agreed to pay this at all their tracks and were quickly followed by Henlow, Central Park and a couple more though disappointingly none of the ARC/TRP tracks would budge on this. However, with well over £10,000 extra being spread out to the trainers I’m sure it was a worthwhile battle though I’ve never had one trainer come up to me and say thank you for helping get this deal!
 
trainerofyear2017.JPGThe annual GBGB Greyhound awards bash at the plush Park Plaza in London was an excellent night with the vast majority of the awards going the right way. We were delighted to see our 2017 St Leger winner Rubys Rascal receive the ‘Stayer of the Year’ award and I collected my ninth Trainer of the Year award on behalf of all at Imperial Kennels, a thoroughly good (but expensive!) night!
 
FEBRUARY
 
A bitterly cold month, one of the worst I can remember in my lifetime where temperatures dropped to -15 at the kennels for a couple of days. There was loads of racing cancelled including the big Lawrence Jones festival at Monmore though overall it was an extremely busy month for open racing.
 
There was major news at Romford where the main grandstand was forced to close as it failed to pass a health and safety check. The Racing was cancelled for nearly a week but began again without the use of the grandstand, it was certainly strange racing dogs without any crowds for the next few weeks, it also resulted in very few entries for their regular Friday nights open racing.
 
bonzos_bullet_fd.JPGThe Golden Jacket kicked off at Crayford and we did well to get five of our six entries qualified in the heats. Over at Monmore kennel star Bruisers Bullet’s first race of the year saw him a close up 5th in the Joyce Lloyd Memorial Trophy while Bonzos Bullet looked like a huge staying star for the rest of the year when booting up in a good class supporting 684m race in 40.94 the fastest time over the trip for five years.
 
Bombers Bullet stepped up to a sharp six bends and won his heat of the Maiden Gold Cup at Henlow in a good 33.35 though a poor draw in the final saw him only finish 3rd. At Crayford the Golden Jacket saw us with four semi finalists in the same race with Cincinatti causing a huge surprise beating kennel mate Rubys Rascal to make the final. Saleen Ash and Ninja Penny both qualified for the Peter Bussey Memorial final.
 
Black Farren the 2017 Irish Derby runner up makes his debut for the kennel but is knocked out of the Astute Missile Gold Cup at Towcester in the first round but worse was to follow as our late entry Bonzos Bullet smashed his hock in his heat. Because we couldn’t get any 6 bend races filled for him to run he was switched down in trip for this competition, he was never to race again and has now been rehomed. On a positive note we did have a 150/1 double in the heats as Ninja Fortune and Plan Ahead won at big prices.
 
saleenash_peterbussey18.JPGThe weather was unrelenting at the end of the month and put serious doubt on the Golden Jacket meeting taking place at Crayford but to be fair they did a magnificent job to make the racing not only possible but safe, travelling wasn’t easy and the crowd was the smallest I can ever remember. The final itself was won easily by ante post favourite Shotgun Bullet for Derek Knight with Rubys Rascal a creditable 3rd and Cincinnati last after not being able to dominate. Better preceded the final as we incredibly landed the Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy for the seventh, yes seventh, consecutive year as Saleen Ash ran superbly to win the Category 2 event in 33.41. In decent prize money supporting opens we also picked up another three winners with Parkers Dynamite (hurdles), Garryglass Champ and Kiltrea Mike giving us a heap of points to put us back up the top of the Trainer of the Year standings though the edge was taken off the month when Bonzos Bullet became our first major casualty of 2019.
 
MARCH
 
The weather again for the majority of the month played a part in many meetings being cancelled including the GTA Trainers Championship meeting which would move to late April. After an incredibly cold February the month of March wasn’t any better and we had the added pleasure of snow which as usual brought the country to a standstill.
 
ninja_penny_fd.JPGThe delayed 2017 Essex Vase kicked off and Roswell Romanov took his heat in good fashion in a fine 34.93 and followed up by landing a hard fought semi final where Ninja Penny also qualified. The final itself lacked atmosphere with only a very limited number of customers allowed in Romford to watch and the usual excellent coverage on Sky sadly missing. Roswell Romanov looked all over the winner off the last bend when challenging but a wrong move trying to cross to the outside cost him that vital 3/4 length leaving the race at the mercy of Kevin Boon’s popular Murrys Act in what was a great final with Ninja Penny only a couple of lengths back in 4th.
 
brinkleys_twirl_fd.JPGBrinkleys Twirl showed promise when making a very hot Monmore Puppy Derby Final, she was slightly outclassed and poorly drawn when trailing last with the final being won by Matt Dartnall’s Rising Brandy.
 
The month was a busy open race one and trying to dodge the ‘Beast from the East’ which was as cold as I can ever remember in my life time. Over at Henlow the flying Roswell Romanov broke the track record (32.86) landing his heat but typically on our year so far he took a crashing fall in the semi final.
 
APRIL
 
The cold snap was still unrelenting as we started the month and you wouldn’t believe the Derby was less than 5 weeks away. In an incredible April we firstly had a Scottish Derby to deal with, it was the first time in many years we had travelled to Shawfield and it started well with all three of our entries Bruisers Bullet, Bombers Bullet and Black Farren all qualifying from their heats.
 
Meanwhile over at Henlow the Bunny Gold Cup Final saw an incredible incident! Saleen Ash led and looked like he was going to take the honours when the hare cable broke at the second bend. The majority of the field kept on running but the observant Swift Casey preceded to run across the middle of the track and dived full length into Henlow’s water pond, the incident has now been watched by over 300k people on Twitter (see You Tube).Thankfully Swift Casey was ok afterwards though certainly was a bit smelly! and in the re-run a few days later Saleen Ash ran a blinder but was just caught on the line by a future star Slippy Maggie. Meanwhile at Sheffield, Cotton Pants had sneaked through into the final of the Bresmed Northern Sprint Final.
 
Back at Shawfield we suffered disappointment as Bruisers Bullet and Bombers Bullet were both knocked out of the Scottish Derby semi finals, the short run to the corner not really suiting them, but Black Farren caused a bit of a surprise landing his semi final in good style. Not for the first in a final this year, Black Farren was not well drawn in 2, with a middle runner inside him, and as expected the long drive to Scotland seemed pointless as we got no sort of run in the final and he duly finished last but not beaten too far.
 
cotton_pants_bresmedsprint18.JPGWhat was to come over the next 10 days was incredible and memorable. Cotton Pants, a big outsider in the Bresmed Northern Sprint Final, produced the performance of his life when smashing out the boxes to lead all the way and capture the £8,000 first prize beating some top notch dogs in the process like Affane Party, a welcome surprise and our first Category one winner of the year, which is always a welcome relief.
 
On the Saturday, we were really looking forward to the GTA Trainers Championship meeting at Towcester, an excellent lunch had preceded the event, but not one of the 20 or so guests interviewed by Jonathon Hobbs picked our kennel to land the spoils and we went off an un-fancied 9/2 shot.
 
garryglass_champ_derby18.JPGThe big night came and at last the weather started to be more favourable.We kicked the night off with a scintillating Derby Trial Stakes victory for Bruisers Bullet in a flying 28.77, it was a big call for myself and connections to leave him out of our Trainers Championship team as we thought this trial stake was better preparation for our Derby star. Liz McNair was made a short priced favourite to win the Championship and that price shortened after she won the first two legs. We were reasonably happy with getting 10 points from both Saleen Ash (second) and Kilcree Diamond (fourth). We struck a big blow ourselves in the next two races as Brinkleys Twirl took the Puppy race and Garryglass Champ landed Division B of the stayers. Defending champion Kevin Hutton hit back by winning the next two races and from off the pace came right back into the mix. Crucially Bombers Bullet had scored vital points in Division B of the standard 500m when snatching second place which meant we were holding a narrow two point lead going into the last two races.
 
black_farren_fd.JPGStep up Rubys Rascal! A moderate start and crowding at the first bend saw him well down the field and virtually out of the race, but sensationally he picked his way through his rivals and in the shadow of the post and to the euphoric cheer of all our supporters he got up to score right on the line. We quickly realised with both Kevin Hutton’s and Liz McNair’s runners down the field we could not be beaten with one leg to come producing more scenes of great excitement for all as were on the podium with Rubys Rascal. The final leg would have graced any Category 1 Final with the likes of Dorotas Wildcat, King Kid, Sporting Dave and Barricane Tiger in the field alongside our Black Farren. It was like he was doing a lap of honour for the kennel as he showed incredible pace and trackcraft to burst through the field on the run in to win by a cosy length and a half, again causing scenes of jubilation amongst our many supporters!
 
It was such a good night and one that will live in the memory for many a year and after so many close calls, it was nice to finally bag one of these events - the first one since 2011 at Doncaster.
 
parkers_dynamite_gnational18.JPGSurely the month could not get any better! At Central Park, the week before, we had managed to qualify both Parkers Dynamite and Swift Dartmoor into the Category 1 Grand National Final, again no one was expecting us to win with Ricky Holloway’s Razldazl Raidio looking a nigh on certainty. All one can say is that we produced a tremendous piece of teamwork as our outsider Swift Dartmoor pinged the kids and jumped up alongside Raidio and then at the first bend slightly moved off, hampering the favourite. This allowed Parkers Dynamite, who himself had got off to a good start, to burst through on the rails and to be honest drew away from the field to score a famous victory by over 5 lengths for the delighted owners, Sarah Parker and Gary Pascoe.
 
To complete a stunning month, we landed a treble in the Regency heats with Cincinnati, Garryglass Champ and, back from a long term injury, Aayamza Breeze. Months don’t get much better than that!
 
MAY
 
We had little time to settle after our incredible achievements in April with the Starsports Greyhound Derby kicking off at Towcester. In all we had 9 entries and got off to a solid start with 8 of these qualifying for the second round, including heat victories for Saleen Ash, who unexpectedly beat kennelmate Bruisers Bullet in 29.28, Black Farren ,who returned to the scene of his Trainers Championship victory to win a messy heat and Bombers Bullet who firmly put himself into contention for outright honours when winning in 29.08. Whilst the Derby was starting, it was great to get both Rubys Rascal and Cincinnati through to the Regency final.
 
After the recent publications from the GBGB of the injury and fatalities statistics as well as the Rehoming figures, I was contacted by sky News to do a live interview. Although I felt these new figures from the GBGB were a lot less damning of the sport, they were not as bad as many antis were suggesting. I was happy to do a difficult interview to give some balance to this story whilst also accepting that the figures were there to be improved upon. Off the track also, myself and Nick Brereton (Aegean Racing) organised a charity football match at Aldershot FC, it was great fun and we raised a few pounds for the retired dogs. Though I wasn’t expecting to play, my services were called upon as many of my players ran out a gas before we even got to half time! My five minutes playing time resulted in a torn hamstring, all good fun.
 
Brinkleys Twirl made it a hat-trick of wins following up her Lawrence Jones Memorial festival 480 bitches victory by landing a debut maiden stayers at Romford.
 
Disappointingly, Cincinnati had to be withdrawn from the Coral Regency final when found to be lame after the semis and we suffered another poor draw in the final as Rubys Rascal drew trap 5 for which he struggled to get a run from. It probably wouldn’t have made much difference even if he had been closer to the rails as the favourite Clares Kyletaun completely blitzed the field winning in a flying 41.05.
 
The Derby was warming up and the second round brought another battling victory for Black Farren and Bruisers Bullet went down in many people’s notebooks after inflicting Rising Brandy’s first defeat in this country in a very good 28.85. We also won a heat with our veteran Boylesports Duke. Bombers Bullet gave Bubbly Bluebird a start and a beating to score by three and three quarter lengths in 29.07, Saleen Ash also remained unbeaten when he won his heat giving us a tremendous five timer in the second round.
 
all_slick_now_fd.JPGAt Romford, it was nice to see Roswell Romanov pick up an event when landing the final of the Stuart Roberts Quicksilver in good style.
 
The Starsports Derby reached the quarter final stage and we qualified three through from the third round -Bombers Bullet, Bruisers Bullet and Saleen Ash.
 
goldsmith_slick_fd.JPGOur winners were ticking over nicely and at Romford we landed both the Maiden Standard Final with All Slick Now and the Maiden Stayers Final with Goldsmith Slick.
 
As the Derby got down to the business end it was great to see all three of our remaining entries qualify from the quarter finals and now the pressure was really on with the final 12 runners. A magnificent semi-final card saw a large crowd at a Towcester and we had plenty of runners which took some of the pressure off our Derby semi finalists and Bombers Bullet and Saleen Ash were first up. At this point all you are praying for is to come in that vital first three and to our pleasure Bombers Bullet ran a great race to safely qualify in second place behind Droopys Verve but sadly Saleen Ash was eliminated, overall he had a great campaign. In the next semi final Bruisers Bullet looked virtually out of the competition as he encountered first bend trouble but a tremendous burst of middle and finishing pace saw him grab that vital 3rd spot behind Whoops Jack. The two made it our 6th and 7th finalists in the history of Imperial Kennels.
 
JUNE

ashakiran_derby18.JPGOf course the start of June was all about the Derby and our two finalists Bruisers Bullet and Bombers Bullet ran with great credit but finished 4th and 5th respectively behind Kevin Hutton's brilliant winner Dorotas Wildcat. My complete review of the Derby is magnificently covered on our June 5th newsletter and is well worth a read. The night was superbly done by Towcester and of course what was to follow in a couple of months is so sad for the sport. Our night on the track was up and down with three great winners on the supporting card with Ashakiran, Ninja Penny and Garryglass Champ.

bruisers_bullet_olympic18.JPGLeading up to the Derby a hint of something that was not right in our opinion for the sport was beginning to show up. From the arctic conditions of February/March/April we suddenly had a long dry and warm spell and up and down the country we were hearing stories of a huge spike in injuries. In Derby week the high profile Droopys Wilbury broke his hock joining kennel mate Brinkleys Reg and Not So Classical who both has suffered broken hocks in trials the previous month, what was to follow in June was simply catastrophic for our kennel.

Black Farren, third in the Derby Plate, was a dog everybody was waiting to see step up in trip and he was made ante post favourite for the Ladbrokes Gold Collar at Crayford but disastrously he smashed his hock in a solo trial before the competition began. It was a bad one but he was saved by the masterful vet Stefano Malegori (and is now running round our paddocks!). One of our entries, the promising Goldsmith Slick then also broke his hock in the first round, then two days later came a shocking blow for connections as the highly rated Bruisers Bullet fractured a wrist at Nottingham in a preparation trial for the Select Stakes and his career is still in the balance. It didn't just end there as our good class sprinter Tread Lightly and the promising Towstar Jess also suffered broken hocks and we were now down at the vets at least twice a week trying to get injuries fixed, quite simply it was a shocking few weeks for the kennel.

Off the track a pressure group was set up to try and get Betfair to pay something to the fund but not surprisingly this fell on deaf ears. The GBGB was doing its best to negotiate with the bookmakers to pay a contribution from their online profits but nothing was happening, indeed Ladbrokes/Corals who had six months earlier made it a high profile news story that they would be the 'good guys' helping greyhound racing by contributing voluntarily from their online profits had disgustingly still not paid anything by June (and still not to this date I believe) citing that they now wouldn't pay unless the other major firms agreed to pay as well, a merry go round that leaves huge funding issues for the industry!

brinkleys_rosie_fd.JPG

 

On the track it was starting to fall apart, a disappointing Gold Collar and few weeks on the open race scene was the first poor run our kennel had gone through all year, that I could take but the injuries were really disheartening. Roswell Romanov was second in the Rose Bowl at Romford and Brinkleys Rosie 3rd in the Henlow Mini Derby final.

 

rubys_rascal_stleger17.JPGA strange decision by Yarmouth to let dogs run that had not trialled at the track for a new Category 2 stayers competition which saw our star Rubys Rascal battered from pillar to post promptly made the owner John Clarke retire his superstar and we all agreed with the decision. Our 2017 St Leger and 2016 Yorkshire St Leger winner and serial Category 1 finalist had amassed 42 wins in a distinguished career. Shortly after his sister Rubys Razzle was also retired after coming in season and the high class bitch which landed the Prestige and Tigerloans Stayers will hopefully produce quality pups.

June left us licking some serious wounds but at least after the Derby we had pulled nearly 200 points clear in the Trainer of the Year Standings.

JULY

The Greyhound world had to deal with all the World Cup in June which always affected attendances and Towcester were forced to cancel a weekends racing because a Paloma Faith concert had taken over the track!

bombers_bullet_gprix18.JPG

 

The weather was still boiling and thankfully we found a dog that was too hot to handle for his rivals. Bombers Bullet was superb since stepping up to six bends and promptly landed the £15,000 to the winner William Hill Grand Prix at Sunderland. He was majestic from another poor draw (trap 4) our dogs were seem to be getting in Category 1 finals. He showed great track craft and pace giving a huge lift to his connections and our kennel.

 

Still our injury crisis worsened as the promising Towstar Arry (had clocked a great 41.19 at Towcester the week before) broke his hock when looking like going close to the track record for Towcesters 686m.

roswell_romanov_coronationcup17.jpgNews that former kennel superstar Domino Storm had produced a litter of eight to our former St Leger winner Aero Majestic and all was well at Jim Hayton's kennel was great news.

Bombers Bullet's Scintilllating form continued as he qualified, along with Roswell Romanov, for the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers final at Monmore.

AUGUST

August kicked off with another disaster as prolific sprinter Shlowdown Sally breaks down with a badly broken hock.
 
kilcree_diamond_fd.JPGBombers Bullet continues his good form winning the semi final of the Ladbrokes Summer Stayers and is joined by Roswell Romanov who is second in his semi final. Kilcree Diamond uses a great draw in trap 1 to land the Friday Night 500 Standard Final at Romford.
 
There was a huge amount of talk amongst the industry about the long hot spell causing a huge spike in injuries with many trainers, including ourselves, asking some questions of track conditions and preparation, the GBBGB calls in specialists to investigate.
 
Bombers Bullet narrowly failed to follow his Grand Prix victory when just beaten in a tight finish by Matt Dartnall’s Ella Juliet in the Category 1 Ladbrokes Summer Stayers Classic with Roswell Romanov 5th.
 
fairest_royal_towcester1.jpgOn August 15th the sport and our kennel was rocked by the news that Towcester was to cease racing immediately and administrators had been called in. It was devastating news to so many people who had worked so hard to get the Northamptonshire track established and was seen as the shining light to the future of the sport. Little was said by the management team except that the trustees and shareholders were no longer able to accept the mounting debts mainly caused by long term loans several years ago for the horse track. To this day we are still waiting to be paid for over six weeks of prize money and trainer payments mounting to well over £20,000.
 
We had the first ever winner at Towcester when Fairest Royal won in December 2014 and we had some brilliant memories including two stunning Bags Championship victories, my blogs on August 20th and 28th are well worth a read. The two Derbys Towcester hosted were without doubt the highlight of their way too short a life span which has without doubt put a massive dent in the future of the sport.
 
We had to move on quickly and a deal was set up for us to join Henlow and their promoter Kevin Boothby was more than welcoming. They were looking to increase meetings and were fast becoming the flagship track for SIS, within a week we were grading dogs on via intertrack races and runners in their regular open race fixtures on Sundays. The fallout from Towcester’s closure along with the demise of racing on Sky was the biggest blow to us since Walthamstow shut exactly 10 years earlier and within weeks we saw many owners walk away from the sport.
 
Elsewhere on the track new intake Good Lad won his heat of the Nottingham Puppy Classic on debut and in the opening round of the Champion Stakes at Romford Bombers Bullet qualified when second and Saleen Ash was impressive winning in 35.12. They both followed up the next week easily making the final. Again Bombers Bullet was second in his semi final and on fire Saleen Ash won his semi in a fastest of the three semis 35.07. Good Lad was very unlucky in the Nottingham Puppy Classic semis when eliminated.
 
Our first winner officially as a Henlow trainer came via an intertrack when Saleen Story won at juicy odds of 12/1.
 
SEPTEMBER

brigadier_bullet_fd.JPGSeptember kicked off in great style as Bombers Bullet landed his second Category 1 Final when flying from the traps to score by 7 1/2 lengths in the Coral Champion Stakes. That doesn’t quite tell the whole story in an incident packed race. Saleen Ash flew from the traps as well but after a couple of strides was bumped by Ower Boy Bullet in trap 5 causing him to stumble effectively putting him out the race, with Bombers Bullet leading and clear the race looked over but Kanturk Repeat showed incredible pace to get to the second placed runner Ower Boy Bullet and looked like she could make inroads into Bomber's lead but off the last bend she decided to take out Ower Boy Bullet and caused the dogs in behind to check up leaving Bombers to score comfortably in 34.97. To complete a good night Brigadier Bullet took the eye when landing the supporting Maiden Stayers final.

The GBGB launched the new Apprentice scheme which hopefully will give youngsters the chance to gain a proper qualification in Animal Health Care.

Roswell Romanov, a true star for the Kennel and owner Evan Herbert for over two years, had his final race when eliminated from the Champion Stakes. 42 victories from 86 races was a stunning record and one of the best dogs we have trained never to have won a Category 1.

chubbys_turkana_fd.JPG

 

Baroness Bullet was starting to make waves on the open race circuit and won a 692m open at Henlow by 13 lengths and Chubbys Turkana qualified for the Summer Maiden Gold Cup final where a missed break saw her only finish 4th.

Our month again finished with a sour note when top class prospect Good Lad broke his hock in a trial at Central Park for the forthcoming Kent Derby.

OCTOBER

baroness_bullet_fd.JPGIn the high class Yorkshire St Leger heats Baroness Bullet won well in 41.17 but Bombers Bullet looked like the distance was too far for him when he only finished second after taking a lead at the first bend. Both Glory Snake and Kilcree Diamond were knocked out at the semi final stage of the Kent Derby at Central Park.
 
SIS announce that they are to stage early morning meetings starting at just after 8 am at Henlow to begin with and Harlow in a few weeks' time.
 
The sad and sudden death of John Gilburn the General Manager of Sheffield came as a huge shock to the sport , the head of the racecourse promoters was very popular right through all the industry and will be sorely missed.
 
Bombers Bullet and Baroness Bullet were eliminated from the Yorkshire St Leger semi finals at Doncaster but Saleen Ash scored a well deserved victory in the minor Friday Night 500 Stayers final at Romford.
 
aayamza_breeze_fd.JPGA quiet month competition wise as we didn't have the best of luck reaching the semi finals of the Brighton Belle and Hawk Derby though we were still ticking over with plenty of open and graded wins and we finished with a nice victory for Baroness Bullet who beat kennel mate Aayamza Breeze in the one off Mitch Millward Memorial one off race at Romford.
 
The GBGB announced the new injury recovery scheme where owners can claim up to £400 for any runners injured at any GBGB licensed track. This is a welcome boost to the owners and again is another step in the right direction for welfare in the industry.
 
NOVEMBER

With all the in fighting in the sport with media rights etc a number of big competitions were in doubt whether they would be staged including the Oaks which had got a sponsor, Swindon seemed reluctant to stage it. The St Leger kicks off at Perry Barr with massively reduced prize money and we make a decision to miss the event instead taking our Stayers plus Bombers Bullet to Shelbourne for the Night of the Stars meeting.

chubbys_caviar_fd.JPGThe decision to go to Ireland proves a disaster as Bombers Bullet breaks his hock at the first bend in a trial before racing, we are left cursing our luck on a horrendous year of injuries especially to some of our top class dogs. We go back to Shelbourne with two runners as we were committed to entering them and Aayamza Breeze runs very well when runner up in one of the staying races.

The emerging Chubbys Caviar wins her semi final of the Bedfordshire Oaks at Henlow in a fastest 27.56 but Shrewd Honcho is knocked out of the Romford Puppy Cup semis.

cincinnati_fd.JPGNot too much was going right for us and two promising youngsters (Tiffield Boy and Energize Bobadee) suffered career ending injuries at Henlow and double Category 1 finalist Cincinnati also suffered a further wrist injury forcing his retirement after a good career. Chubbys Caviar totally missed her break and finished a close up 4th in the Bedfordshire Oaks final. 

At last some good news as Brigadier Bullet grabs the headlines by winning his heat of the Coral Essex Vase in a magnificent fastest of the round 34.89.

DECEMBER

silva_hill-fd.JPGBrigadier Bullet lands his semi final of the Essex Vase in a fine 35.02 and lines up in the final a warm favourite. The Oaks kicks off at Swindon and Chubbys Caviar wins her opening heat in 29.24.

We are winding down a bit on the open race front but we are really busy at Henlow with plenty of graded runners and in the opens on Sunday Silva Hill notches up a four-timer and Glory Snake a hat trick of open race wins.

glory_snake_fd.JPGThe final of the Essex Vase proves a disappointment as Brigadier Bullet couldn't get a run at the leader and eventual winner Prime Time as Sporting Dave in second place blocked his run three or four times, he was still a creditable 3rd and drew miles clear at the pick up.

Chubbys Caviar bolts up in her semi final (28.73) of the English Oaks at Swindon and we really look forward to the final as our supporters of the website recommended bets were on at 66/1. The final itself went all wrong as she went into the first bend in a promising position but was trodden on and catapulted to the back of the field and there was no coming back from that, a great effort nonetheless.

A very quiet month overall and we didn't do too much other than Henlow over Christmas and our team there was in tremendous form with a strike rate of 30 % all month and aptly Chubbys Caviar was our last open race winner of 2018 when scorching round 550m in 33.11 when stepped up to six bends for the first time.

 

MAJOR COMPETITION WINS IN 2018

Category 1

COTTON PANTS - Bresmed Northern Sprint - Sheffield - £8,000
PARKERS DYNAMITE - The John Smiths Grand National - Central Park - £8,000
BOMBERS BULLET - William Hill Grand Prix - Sunderland - £15,000
BOMBERS BULLET - Coral Champion Stakes Final - Romford - £10,000

Category 2 

SALEEN ASH - Peter Bussey Memorial Trophy - Crayford - £2,000

Category 3 

BRINKLEYS TWIRL - Lawrence Jones Memorial Trophy - Monmore - £500
ROSWELL ROMANOV - Stuart Roberts Quicksilver - Romford - £500
ALL SLICK NOW - Friday Night 500 Maiden - Romford - £500
GOLDSMITH SLICK - Friday Night 500 Maiden Stayers - Romford - £500
ASHIKIRAN - Star Sports Derby Intertrack - Towcester - £2,000
NINJA PENNY - Star Sports Derby Bitches - Towcester - £2,000
ALL SLICK NOW - Friday Night 500 Standard - Romford - £500
KILCREE DIAMOND - Friday Night 500 Standard - Romford - £500
BRIGADIER BULLET - Champion Night Maiden Stayers - Romford - £500
BARONESS BULLET - Mitch Millward Memorial Trophy - Romford - £1000
SALEEN ASH - Friday Night 500 Stayers - Romford - £500 

OTHER NOTABLE WINS

GTA TRAINERS CHAMPIONSHIP - Towcester - £5,000 - Won

MOST WINS IN 2018

1st - SALEEN ASH ................. 13
2nd - Bombers Bullet .............  12
         Silva Hill ........................  12
4th - Garryglass Champ .......   11
5th - Roswell Romanov .........  10
        Calco Swift ....................  10

WEBSITE MOST TOP PERFORMANCES

OPEN RACING 

1st - BOMBERS BULLET......... 6
2nd - Saleen Ash ...................  5
3rd - Garryglass Champ .......   4
4th - Chubbys Caviar ...........   3
        Roswell Romanov .........  3

GRADED 

1st - AIRFORCE CLUXTON  3
       JAZZ JAKE ................... 3
        SWIFT LISETTA............3
4th - Union Pride..................2
      Cousin Dupree............  2
      Ribble Ghost..............  2
       Shazzas Bullet............ 2
       Roswell Martian ......... 2

IMPERIAL KENNELS TOP PERFORMANCE OF 2018

 RUBYS RASCAL 
(Trainers Championship Meeting - Towcester)

IMPERIAL KENNELS GREYHOUND OF THE YEAR 

BOMBERS BULLET

IMPERIAL KENNELS GRADED GREYHOUND OF THE YEAR 

RIBBLE GHOST 

WEBSITE FIVE TO FOLLOW COMPETITION

1st Paws For Thoughts ............................ 295 pts (Mike Davis) 
2nd Saracens3 .......................................   280 pts (Saracens Head, Diss)
       Gav's Five 3 .......................................280 pts (Gav Whitworth)

STAFF 5 TO FOLLOW COMPETITION

1st  Emily .....................247 pts
2nd Kiera......................244 pts
3rd Sid ........................ 243 pts

WEBSITE 5 TO FOLLOW TOP SCORING DOGS

1st SILVA HILL ........94 pts
2nd Saleen Story ..   83pts
3rd Calco Swift.....    81 pts

 

 


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